How to Appreciate Korean Seasons

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Wondering what to expect during Korea’s four seasons? Let’s take a look at what a year looks like living in Korea. Discover tips for how to appreciate Korean seasons for their own unique style.

Korea’s ‘Four Seasons’ is Part of Small Talk

Korean culture puts great importance on the 4 seasons. While living in South Korea, you may even hear about Korea’s four-season slightly more than feels comfortable. For example, many social conversations may begin with the question, “Do you know about Korea’s four seasons?” due to the fact it’s a conversation topic often covered in ESL classes.

Additionally, the topic of Korea’s 4 Seasons may also be covered in Introduction to Korean classes. The following video introduces you to the seasons and the Korean vocabulary associated with the seasons. It’s a great idea to be familiar with the common vocabulary.

Once you have lived in Korea for a while you may also become a little obsessed with Korea’s Four Seasons. Korean culture sets its rhythm by the changing of seasons and you soon find yourself spending a great deal of time talking about the fall colors, cherry blossoms, and heatwaves. It gets in your blood and you set your life clock to it in a way that you might not at home.

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This blog looks at how my appreciation for Korean Seasons plays out in real life and what my family does each year.

About Korea’s Four Seasons

Whether you’re from a place with just a couple of seasons or have experienced four seasons for most of your lives, you’ll discover that Korea has its own unique seasonal changes. This blog aims to give you a general overview of what to appreciate and look forward to with each season. And also link you to blogs that may help further guide your search.

Korea’s seasons will arrive a little earlier and last a little longer in different parts of the peninsula. So, while you may not need to drive very far, you may need to wait a little longer depending on where you live. Additionally, much of the information online may relate mostly to Seoul so you need to confirm dates for your area.

Watching the seasons change in Korea is more than just changes in climate and temperature. It’s much more exciting as you’ll soon notice by the seasonal posts about flower festivals, autumn colors, fruit picking, and ski trips, for example. While we wait on the edge of our seats for hints of color, it’s easy to lose sight of the beauty that continues to linger.

Personally, I love watching changes in the landscape as I pass agricultural land. Especially rice fields that dance with the wind, “marshmallow season” or after the rice has been harvested and wrapped for transportation, and, my favorite, “fields of glass” or when the rice fields are flooded for planting. Color changes in the fields are part of how I appreciate the seasons in Korea.

My Seasonal Guide for Korea

I’d like to share some of my family’s favorite things to do during each season in South Korea. Since I came from Hawai’i, it’s been a neat experience to live in a place with such seasonal diversity. I have a family of three and my little one has been a toddler during our time in South Korea.

Keep in mind, that the following recommendations come from my family’s experiences and what we enjoy. These recommendations don’t include everything there is to do in Korea during each season. My family loves nature and space for our toddler to play so we have fallen in love with the following activities.

After reading my ideas, explore many other blogs to discover how you would like to appreciate Korea’s seasons. For example, you will discover that I don’t have much to say about the Winter season because I’m not a confident driver in the snow. I tend to spend these days, wrapped in layers of blankets, drinking something warm, as I admire the beauty of falling snow from the comfort of my living room. Though I do aim to visit at least one ski location in Korea before we leave.

Spring Highlights in South Korea

Many Koreans may admit to feeling like Korea mostly has two seasons because Spring and Autumn happen within a blink of an eye. This is why people rush to see Cherry Blossoms and Autumn Leaves. You will want to be ready to act quickly to catch the highlights of Spring and Autumn in Korea.

1. Cherry Blossoms

Cherry blossoms usually begin to blossom around March and April. Each year a map is created for the Korean cherry blossom season. It predicts when each area will have peak blossoms. Remember that such maps are an educated guess. You can use Instagram to figure out what blossoms are popping at each location.

Example of Cherry Blossom season variations

Cherry Blossoms Exist Across Korea: You don’t need to leave your area to enjoy cherry blossom season. Most cities in South Korea have many tree-lined roads and local parks. You do not need to feel pressure to travel to a special location. You can find Pyeongtaek view areas on the South of Seoul blog.

2. Spring Fruit Picking

Please keep in mind, especially when picking various types of berries in Korea (eg. strawberries, cherries, blueberries), that you’re paying for the experience, which often includes eating WHILE you pick.

You may see the cost and be discouraged to pick when you see the size of the containers that you take home. It’s because you’re expected to also eat them while picking. If you have no intention to eat while picking, then these farms often also sell containers with fruit at a lower cost.

3. Spring Flower Festivals

South Korea has many spring flower festivals in different parts of the country. Many flower festivals focus on blooms that aren’t cherry blossoms. Such flower festivals are perfect for families since kids often have plenty of room to run and plan.

4. Cafe visits

The cafes in South Korea are unmatched. I help admin Cafes in Korea and something our group loves to do is visit cafes based on a theme or idea. In the spring I love to visit the cafes with views of cherry blossoms or a cherry blossom theme.

Summer in South Korea

Summer in Korea offers a variety of experiences depending on where you are in the country. In the countryside where we live, the rice paddies look like beautiful fields of glass, reflecting the sky, and nearby structures, like bridges and buildings.

Monsoon season is often in June and may run through July. Some years are wetter than others so this would be a great time to make sure you have your raincoats, boots, and umbrellas ready. Otherwise, the summers are long, hot, and humid.

1. Arboretums

You may notice a trend. Korean gardens have been something my family has enjoyed in all seasons. South Korea has many stunning arboretums which have indoor spaces that help with managing some of the sun exposure issues in the summer.

2. Summer Fruit Picking

To be honest, there isn’t a season when you shouldn’t be out picking fruit. Korea has delicious seasonal fruits. In the summer we like to pick cherries and blueberries.

3. Beach Time

The Korean coastline is filled with swimming beaches on all sides. The beaches may be rocky or sandy and the water is shallow on the west coast and drops off quickly on the east coast. Yes, I am from Hawai’i and I love what Korean beaches have to offer even though they may not have the same tropical aesthetic as home.

If you live in Pyeongtaek, then you’ll find beautiful beaches just an hour or two away. Of course, there are beautiful beaches surrounding the peninsula. South of Seoul even has a list of volunteers’ Top 20 Korean Beaches across Korea.

Autumn in South Korea

Lush, green rice paddies are harvested and the Autumn leaves arrive. Fall is the season many look forward to because of the cooler weather and stunning landscapes.

Rice paddies are almost ready to be harvested.

1. Hiking and Viewing Fall Colors

We recommend spending a lot of time outside in the fall. There are many easy hikes for toddlers around where we live in Pyeongtaek.

Additionally, just like in the spring, Korean tourist organizations put out posters that guesstimate when the best dates for seeing fall colors in different parts of South Korea. Such posters will start circulating about two weeks before the fall color season begins.

Example of Autumn leaves season variation

2. Fall Fruit Picking

Yes, we head back to the farms and orchards in the fall as well. Pick apples is a very popular activity for families. There is a very popular farm just south of Pyeongtaek where many go to enjoy apple picking and pie making.

3. Instagram Picks with Flowers and Grasses

Instagram photos and cafes are a big part of our lives in the fall in Korea. Everyone becomes obsessed with muhly grass, pampas grass, and fall flowers. I recommend checking out the Chrysanthemum Festivals in October and November. Once again, you can use Instagram to discover exactly what grass and blossoms are blooming in each area of Korea.

If you’re USFK affiliated, then Osan Air Base and Camp Humphreys often host their own Fall Festivals with food and activities for the family.

4. Cafe visits

In the fall we are back in the cool cafes. As I mentioned, I help admin Cafe’s in Korea and something our group loves to do is visit cafes based on a theme or idea. Each fall I’m out visiting my favorite fall-focused cafes and soaking in the aesthetic. Nothing like sipping coffee and thinking to myself, “This is how to appreciate Korean seasons.”

Winter

Bundles of rice shocked up, waiting for threshing. By the way, “shocking” rice is the process of standing the bundles so they may dry. “Threshing” is the process of removing the grains from the straw. Soon the rice paddies will look like fields of giant marshmallows. While my use of simile may seem strange, you’ll never look at these large, often white, bundles the same way ever again.

White is the color of this season in Korea. During the 2 years, we lived in Asan-si, our first snow day of the year arrived in late November, then didn’t return until late December. We continued to enjoy snow days in January and February. We also make the most of our outdoor time when it’s cold because the trails are free of snakes and spiders. The nippy winds arrive in late Autumn and linger through Spring. South of Seoul has many ski blogs for various skill levels.

As I mentioned earlier, I’m less adventurous during the Winter, but I know others, such as my husband, who deeply enjoy the winter season.

South of Seoul Seasonal Guides

As I mentioned before, there are many more things to do in South Korea than mentioned above. You can learn more about how to appreciate Korean seasons by reading South of Seoul’s seasonal blogs by category.

Join Pyeontaek Travelers

If you would like to know how others appreciate Korean seasons, join the Pyeongtaek Travelers group! Many wonderful adventures are shared year-round.